Recent political events both at home and oversees have shown us that there are few constants in life. But two things we can rely upon are the passage of time and the ageing process. Peter Pan is a work of fiction – childhood inevitably becomes adulthood and even Donald Trump was a child once. I wonder if his mother, as she gazed lovingly down on Donald the new-born, ever imagined that one day he would be the leader of the free world? If she had, would she have done anything different in her parenting?
The well-known philosopher Whitney Houston has often been heard expressing her belief that “children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way”. This statement is easily dismissed, either because it scores 10/10 on the cliché-Richter scale, or because Whitney isn’t everyone’s musical cup of tea. But it does make us consider our stance on the nature/nurture debate, particularly when it comes to domestic abuse.
Is a child’s future determined solely on their DNA or do their experiences and environment also impact on the adult they will become? The jury’s still out from an academic point of view, but our experience has shown us that it’s a bit of both and that nurture has just as much, if not more, of an influence than nature on who a child becomes.
Then NSPCC say that 1 in 5 children are exposed to some form of domestic abuse and that there currently130,000 children living in households with high risk domestic abuse. A report by Safe Lives in 2014 (In Plain Sight) found that exposure to domestic abuse causes serious physical and psychological harm to children. Of the children involved in the study 52% had behavioural problems, 60% felt responsible for the negative events, 52% had problems with social development and relationships, and 39% had difficulties adjusting at school. In addition, only around half knew how to keep themselves safe (56%) or get help (62%), a quarter (24%) did dangerous or harmful things, around half were often unhappy (46%), worried (52%) and/or angry (43%), and half (55%) found it difficult to sleep.
These statistics are concerning. However, if nurturing has a part to play, then we can counteract the impact of domestic abuse. We want to nurture children and young people so that they grow up as empowered individuals who know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. We want to nurture children and young people who have been affected by domestic abuse so that any negative impact stops here and doesn’t continue throughout their childhood and into adulthood. We want to see a decline in the number of adult victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse in the future by positively impacting children today.
The things we invest in today will have an impact tomorrow, so why not partner with us and help us to positively impact more children and young people? We run a range of support and preventative programmes , including supporting children who have witnessed domestic abuse at home, supporting young people in abusive relationships and supporting families where children are abusing their parents.